Computer Trainers

By Ashraf Al Shafaki

Qualities

A good computer trainer should have the following qualities:

  • Exceptional verbal communication skills.
  • Fluency with language.
  • Ability to express himself/herself and his/her ideas and thoughts with clarity and ease.
  • Mastery of communication through body language.
  • Excellent listening skills.
  • A love for dealing with people.
  • A love for sharing information and knowledge.
  • Gets a sense of satisfaction out of answering other people's questions.
  • An inquisitive mind.
  • Wide imagination.
  • Strong visualization ability.
  • Flexible mind.
  • A lot of patience with slow learners.
  • Creativity.
  • Perfect timing.
  • A lively personality.
  • Fun to be around.
  • Ability to come up with natural jokes on the fly.
  • Solid knowledge of subject area.
  • Deep experience in subject area.
  • Knowledge of, and preferably experience in, how what he or she is teaching is actually being used in the real world.

Behavior

Punctuality

Carefully set time for starting and ending a lecture and time for breaks and stick to that set time every time.

Friendliness

Be open and friendly with students and provide an occasional joke (but only when appropriate).

Treatment

  • Never mock a student, specially if he/she is of the sensitive type.
  • Treat students with respect and do not treat them as if they were inferior to you.

Extra

Give extra time and effort out of your official schedule for slower students.

Lab Setup

Hardware

Make sure all lab computers are free of any hardware problems that could cause them to malfunction.

Software

Install required software and make sure it is functioning on all computers.

Internet

Make sure internet access is available and reliable if required by the course.

Network

Make sure the network is correctly configured and is working properly.

NetMeeting

Setup NetMeeting and make sure it is functioning properly across the network on all computers.

Lab Work

Help

Supply students individually with direct help when coding during lab work.

Challenges

  • Provide students with a little challenging lab assignments that they are able to do.
  • Provide students with a real-life mini-project lab assignment. Explain the requirements clearly at first and optionally provide suggestions on how to implement it. Optionally provide a quick revision of the fundamentals before assigning the mini-project.
  • Provide more challenging assignments for the more daring students. (By adding more features to the min-project or by giving additional assignments to them that build on the past ones or are separate from them.)
  • Give students a real project to start implementing. Let it be a project you are working on for the first time.
  • Write students' names on the whiteboard as they progress through their lab work.

Exercises

  • Let students do the exercises.
  • Let students use files provided for completing exercises.
  • Guide students clearly on how to follow exercises.
  • Do a lot of lab work and less theoretical lecturing.
  • Ask students to do book exercises after conditioning them to accept it.
  • Provide older students with a lot of practical hands-on exercises.

Copying

Do not ask students to just copy exercise from the book specially before understanding what they do.

Project

Observe well distribution of project segments on students.

Lecture Content

Extra

Give students extra bits and pieces of knowledge loosely related to the course.

Primer

Start by laying the groundwork with a primer they will need during the course even if it was not included in the course material.

Real world

Give students the big picture and how this course relates to the real world.

Practical

Give older students readymade canned solutions to use directly in practice with a minimal of theoretical background while dropping the unnecessary topics. Let them view complete real life solutions with practial value working in front of them.

Process

Give students and guide them through the complete process by which a project can be made by tying together what they have studied in the course in a clear, complete, sequenced and coherent process.

Lecture Structure

Background

Give students a bird's eye overview of the big picture in which their course fits.

Course Goals

State the objective of the course at the start of the first lecture.

Outline

Give the broad lines of the course.

Concepts

Clearly state essential concepts in the course and around it.

Lecture Plan

Clearly state the lecture plan, how will the lecture proceed, at the start of each lecture.

Review

At the start of each lecture, review what was taken in the previous lecture before giving anything new. Review by asking students, correcting them or filling in the blanks and then letting them ask any questions they still have.

Summary

Summarize the main points at the end of each lecture by asking students about them and correcting them if needed and filling in the blanks.

Speed

Start your first lectures with a good speed that enables you to finish the course without cramming at the final lecture.

Methods

Procedures

Clearly state procedures that need to be followed to accomplish specific things.

Reviews

  • When reviewing a whole course, go through the whole book explaining important concepts and point to important questions.
  • When reviewing a whole course, Answer and explain student questions and clarify unclear issues they have.

Asking

Before explaining something new, ask the students what they know about it or think it is.

Whiteboard

Occasionally ask students to answer by writing on the whiteboard.

Reading

Read aloud to students only pre-selected and clearly marked short parts from the book.

Supplement

Supplement the lecture with added external blocks of info if the time of the lecture is too much for its content.

Preparing Lessons

Procedures

Clearly state procedures that need to be followed to accomplish specific things.

Reviews

  • When reviewing a whole course, go through the whole book explaining important concepts and point to important questions.
  • When reviewing a whole course, Answer and explain student questions and clarify unclear issues they have.

Asking

Before explaining something new, ask the students what they know about it or think it is.

Whiteboard

Occasionally ask students to answer by writing on the whiteboard.

Reading

Read aloud to students only pre-selected and clearly marked short parts from the book.

Supplement

Supplement the lecture with added external blocks of info if the time of the lecture is too much for its content.

Students

Breaking the Ice

  • Start first lecture with a friendly discussion that is unrelated to the course and have a laugh with the students.
  • Ask students about their names from day one.
  • Respect students, give them freedom, tell them what are the objectives of the course and of each lecture.

Conditioning

Convince students with the high importance of the course.

Rules

Instruct students to switch off their cellular phones during class.

Timing

Take measures to let students come on time at the start of each class and after the breaks.

Attention

Instruct students to switch off monitors while you are instructing.

Democracy

Let students vote for what they want and do what they voted for. In particular, ask them how they like the course to go.

Motivation

Group students into two teams. Give each group points for the timely attendance of its members at the start of each class and after breaks. In addition, give points for each group for the answering of their members to review questions asked at the start of each lecture.

Praise

Praise a student upon performing well. Inform the class genuinely (preferably in front of an outsider) that they are high performers.

Resources

Inform students of the responsibilities of the instructor. In case of absence of resources let students know that it is out of the instructor's responsibility and go ahead without those unavailable resources.

Teaching Aids

NetMeeting

Instead of a data show, engage students deeply by using NetMeeting to demonstrate step-by-step procedures.

Whiteboard

  • Write the course title at the top center of the whiteboard.
  • Write key concepts on the whiteboard.
  • Show relationships between different concepts by writing and optionally drawing simple but clear illustrations on the whiteboard.

Disks

  • Provide students with disks containing half-finished works to be completed by them during lab exercise.
  • Provide student with disks containing complete works for them to see and experience the final product.

Resourcefulness

Competence

Build wide technical background, gain deep practical experience, be able to read and digest huge amounts of information in a short time and acquire the skill of creating content on the fly for use during a lecture.

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